Why I am obsessed with Hand Hygiene

While on vacation in St. Joseph, MI, I visited a restaurant. I went to the bathroom there and soon found myself next to a mom and her 3 year old. All were taking care of their business, when I hear the sweet girl’s voice saying, “Daddy says I don’t have to wash my hands when I go tee-tee.”  

Silence…...soon, mom says, “Well, Daddy’s busted!”  We trade smiles when we approached to the sinks.  

Ok, relax…….it just shows Mom has more teaching to do.

A few days later, I’m at a sandwich shop where a young lady is making healthy turkey sandwiches and changing money at the register with the same gloves on.  This worker was not unaware her unsanitary behavior had possibly cross-contaminated her work environment and, possibly, make her customers sick. I politely suggested she change gloves.

As a nurse working in ICU and ER, I know clean, sterile and gross.  Handwashing is my life and jumping out of my scrubs to protect my family and home from MRSA and c-Diff (Ask the Science Teacher) was required.  But even as we thought we were saving lives, the Center for Disease Control said we need to do more of it and the right way.

Hospitals invested in teaching and monitoring for compliance and frequency the hand washing technique of  surgeons and ICU nurses because it saves lives and prevents infections.

So fast forward, I’m a School Nurse at a little school district in the ‘burbs.  I see these tiny soldiers lining up against the wall for a chance to get a little respite from their teacher and play in the water. I hear laughter and joy, but no water.   I can’t resist putting my foot just inside the bathroom and in my supervising voice “Please wash your hands with soap and water!”  Teach when you can, they will remember.

October is coming and with it... snot, sniffles and germs, poor hand washing and no hand washing.   It doesn’t have to be so.  Let’s promote it to our students as we build a healthier school community.